As ASSiST kicks off our second fiscal year, we are brainstorming ways we can increase our presence and STEM impact in our community. Listed below are some ideas that we are currently discussing. Come back frequently as this page will be updated periodically as new ideas surface.
Children's Museum of Houston -Summer Robotics outreach program: The museum is developing an interactive robotics display for this summer. They have invited the teams of ASSiST to participate to whatever level we can sustain. The current plan is to rotate through all six teams so we can have at least 1 team/week for a block of about 4-5 hours. The museum rep asked if we could bring kits and robots that the students could drive, but I don't know how we would do this as we have only our supplies for our competition robot and not much else. But, we can at least present our robots from this past season and talk to the families.
STEM workshop for Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and TrailLife - Develop and implement a STEM robotics based workshop that would fulfill the STEM requirements of each program.
Summer interns - Section 1.5 of the bylaws states that one of the purposes of ASSiST is to "provide technology and science education to students to improve their ability to enter the workforce upon graduation." One way we can extend our education outreach is by offering internships to high school or college students to enhance their employment opportunities. Even though these internships would be purely on a volunteer basis, nevertheless, the experience would be educational and, we hope, would enhance the students' resumes. As such, we are developing a few intern project opportunities for Summer 2017 including:
Education Coordinator Intern- This intern would develop and implement a web based education platform for a FIRST Robotics curriculum to be developed by Error 404 team members. This intern would also be responsible for coordinating our summer visits to the Children's museum and making a new web for ASSiST,
Grant Writing Intern - This intern would research grant writing procedures and opportunities, prepare a master list of opportunities, and apply for as many grants as possible.
Mechanical Intern - This intern(s) would complete a variety of mechanical design and fabrication tasks such as building a spare robot for use during public presentations, conducting mechanical training workshops as might be scheduled throughout the summer.
Summer Workshops: CAD, 3D printing, FLL Robots, FTC Robotics, java programming, etc. In development.
Purchase 3-5 computers for use in the workshops. In the past when we have conducted workshops such as FLL or CAD, we rented the computers from a local FLL coach as ASSiST doesn't own any equipment that we could use for these workshops. It would be so helpful to have a fleet of laptops already preloaded with CAD software (Autodesk Inventor, PTC Creo,..), FLL ev3 programming software, FTC java programming software, and the Microsoft Office Suite. We are currently investigating writing grants to request funding for computers. Since CAD software has relatively high RAM and display requirements, we find that using older, low capability computers is not effective. So, likely, we would need around $1000 for a good computer (such as: this one) , $200/computer for an accident protection plan, plus an amount to purchase Microsoft Office.
Purchase 1-3 FTC kits for workshops: When we conduct a general mechanical or FTC workshop, we want to bring parts so the students can assemble a part or whole robot. However, we are very limited in what we can bring to the workshop as we don't have spare robot kits - we have only the kit and supplies we purchase each year to build the one robot we use during competition. Obviously, we don't want to hand over our competition robot to allow anyone to drive. So, usually, we'll build some little robot "wannabe" but then immediately disassemble it as the parts are needed for the competition robot. It would be great to have kits that are dedicated to educational purposes so we can build one robot wannabe and have other parts for use during the workshops. A Pitsco competition kit costs about $800 (here) plus the control system would be an extra $600.
Why not dream big?? Makerspaces are all the rage right now but most are expensive and not available to the general community. The Freeman library's makerspace is great, but also limited in access and size. Wouldn't it be great if ASSiST had a facility that could host our workshops, member teams, community outreach, etc? While we try to use the public library as much as possible, access is limited especially around voting times and holidays. Maybe someday, we could grow into something like this: https://www.forgegreensboro.org/